“Could you bring me a glass of water?”
“COULD YOU BRING ME SOME WATER, PLEASE!”
“Of course, my dear, but why are you yelling?”
Does this situation seem familiar? You know someone experiencing hearing loss. In the US alone, approximately 18% of people between the ages of 20 and 69 are struggling with hearing loss.
Furthermore, 8.5% of individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 are experiencing disabling hearing impairment. By the time they reach 65, the risk of disabling hearing loss increases to 50%.
Hearing loss doesn’t only affect the person experiencing it. Hearing loss may cause daily challenges for loved ones if the person affected doesn’t seek treatment.
The following advice will help you if you are living with someone experiencing untreated hearing loss.
1. Approach with patience and love
Even though it’s frustrating, you probably already knew this.
An individual with untreated hearing loss and tinnitus is in a constant struggle to work harder to hear and understand your words, just as you work to be patient.
Your loved one may become extremely frustrated when he or she can’t make out what you’re saying. The person affected realizes he or she is missing important information and is probably aware that you’re also becoming frustrated.
Find it in your heart to love this person unconditionally and to understand what he or she is going through as the two of you work together to find solutions.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
Staying silent is one of the worst things you can do when living with someone experiencing hearing loss. It’s important that you continue to discuss with your loved one the things that matter to you and your relationship.
Set aside time in the day when you turn off any distractions. That includes fans, TVs, and the dishwasher. Close the windows if it’s noisy outside and try to eliminate background noise. Turn off any items that keep the two of you from communicating.
Do this at least once each day. Make it a routine.
3. Share your feelings
You’re not alone, and your feelings matter. If he or she is refusing to wear hearing aids, you need to express your feelings regarding the situation, whether you’re a son, daughter, spouse, or someone caring for this person.
You probably are aware that new hearing aids take time to get acclimated to. After that period of time, an individual with hearing aids can hear almost as well as a person without hearing loss. Your loved one will certainly communicate better and be more engaged in conversations while wearing hearing aids.
Most people who delay getting hearing aids regret waiting once they experience clear hearing again.
4. Listen to objections, but share valuable knowledge
When your loved one objects to wearing hearing aids, empathize, but don’t support any misunderstandings. Instead, learn the facts.
Most people with untreated hearing loss have the following objections:
- “Hearing aids will make me seem old.” Point out (gently) that constantly asking, “What?” makes a person seem much older. This constant refrain can add 10 to 15 years to how individuals are perceived in conversations.
- “Hearing aids are big and clunky.” That’s not true anymore. Today’s hearing aids are barely noticeable, but poor hearing is instantly noticeable.
- “Hearing aids don’t work for me.” It takes a few weeks or months to adjust to hearing aids. During this time, the individual is adjusting, and the hearing aids are adjusting by learning how to help the wearer hear clearly. Encourage your loved one to try again and assist him or her during the adjustment period.
- “Hearing aids are too expensive.” There is a significant upfront cost, but you’ll read in the next section that the cost of not wearing hearing aids is much greater.
- “I’m having trouble hearing, but it’s not a big deal.”
5. Share research during the conversation
People with untreated hearing loss often develop other health concerns, including:
- Being 33% more likely to experience cognitive decline
- A notable reduction in brain size
- The risk of dementia becomes 64% greater.
- Being twice as likely to suffer from depression
Each of these health issues has a significant effect on health and happiness that far exceeds the financial cost of hearing aids. Many of the studies referenced above demonstrate that wearing hearing aids significantly reverses these health risks.
6. Encourage your loved one to schedule an appointment
It’s important to act as quickly as possible. Waiting to address your loved one’s hearing loss reduces the likelihood of follow-through. Support your loved one by making an appointment with a hearing specialist as soon as you are able.